|Daily Mail: Perhaps you thought white diamonds were the last word in luxury. Well, think again.
Colored diamonds the most exquisite gemstones on the planet are the rocks everyone is talking about.
Once worn exclusively by royalty or billionaires, they are the most covetable accessory du jour.
"Movie stars want coloured diamonds because no one else has them," explains Carol Woolton, jewellery editor of British Vogue. "It sets them apart. Women love them because they are beautiful. Men love them because they make a sound investment." In the past two years their value has rocketed by 300 percent, which justifies why they are now top of the shopping list for the super-affluent in pursuit of the exceptionally rare.
As a response to this colored diamond fever, Cartier recently launched an eyepopping jewellery range inspired by the brand's Indian gemstone heritage.
The Inde Mysterieuse collection features 34 whoppers, and the smallest piece a pair of earrings featuring two rose-cut yellow diamonds with brown diamond beads and drops costs £169,000. Despite the astronomical prices, it has already almost sold out.
"Colored diamonds are about forever fashion," says Lucy Willis from Selfridges and now sells colored diamonds by Tiffany and Cartier for the first time in its newly-opened Wonder Room in its Oxford Street store.
But the best place to see the latest rockson-the-block is The Vault, a new gallery that will open at The Natural History Museum this Wednesday.
The piece de resistance of the exhibition is the Aurora Collection, which features 296 naturally-colored diamonds, some the size of golf balls.
"Most stones half as interesting are locked in a vault and never see the light of day," explains curator Alan Hart. "This is without a doubt the best coloured diamond collection you are ever likely to see." But, thankfully, you don't have to be a film star or a millionaire if you want to do more than just look. As colored diamonds become increasingly popular, more and more jewellers are sourcing small stones in all colors of the rainbow, with prices starting from around £800.
"Historically, diamonds are all 'Historically, diamonds are all about power,'" believes Carmen Busquets of Couturelab, a fashion shop selling coloured diamond jewellery. "White diamonds have connotations with engagement.
"Colored diamonds give a show of individuality and independence."
"Before, if you wanted colored diamonds you went to Cartier or Van Cleef and spent £1million. But recently, contemporary designers who work with the same quality colored diamonds are offering personalised designs on a much smaller budget. Something to wear all day not just at night." Prices for her colored diamond jewellery start at £8,000.
Kate Moss bought herself a discreet pink marquise diamond commitment ring from Wint & Kidd celebrate the birth of daughter Lila Grace.
Although the rings start from a mere £1,000 the price of two pairs of Louboutins these are designed to be collected and worn piled up as a style statement.
Chances are you'll run out of fingers well before you run out of color combinations.
"A fancy stone is about color and consistency," says Tony Cox, designer at Cox & Power.
¦ PINK was put on the global map after Jennifer Lopez was given a 6.1 carat pink diamond engagement ring, costing around £1 million, by Ben Affleck. Victoria and David Beckham own his and hers pink diamond rings.
¦ PURPLE made headlines when basketball superstar Kobe Bryant gave his wife an 8 carat purple diamond costing $4 million..
¦ GREEN commands astronomical prices. Mined in Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, and Siberia.
¦ BLUE most famous stone is the Hope Diamond, a staggering 45.52 carats, housed at The Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington. The diamond is legendary for the curse it supposedly puts on whoever possesses it.
¦ RED is by far the rarest of all colored diamonds and almost priceless. The largest fancy red ever graded is the Moussaieff Red, which is 5.11 carats and was discovered in the 1990s by a now not-so-poor farmer tending his crops in Brazil.
¦ BROWN is the most widely available and most affordable colored diamonds, they range from cognac to chocolate.
¦ BLACK are usually opaque, yet they still display the sparkle and lustre unique to diamonds.
If you have £31,964 to spare, it will get you a 1.08 carat faint reddish-brown cut-heart shape; £2,416 buys a 0.43 carat fancy intense orange yellow stone.
Or visit a wholesalers London's Hatton Garden, Birmingham's diamond quarter, Antwerp's diamond district, New York's 47th Street and downtown Dubai if you are an expert.
Tiffany & Co has got a spectacular new assortment of colored diamonds in its Old Bond Street store until January.
Although green is one of the rarest to find naturally, it is the easiest to create artificially. A clear diamond placed in a nuclear reactor at temperatures of 1,200C, will go green. Further heat will turn it yellow, orange, brown, pink or mauve. Blues and pinks remain the hardest manmade colours to pull off.
Jewellers are divided about enhanced colored diamonds.
Ben Day, who only works with colored diamonds, uses both enhanced and natural.
"For someone who loves color, the palettes you now find in treated diamonds are interesting.
"Enhanced diamonds can have a more intense hue that would cost thousands if they were natural," says Day.
"You find a strength in a diamond you would never get in a pink sapphire, and there are so many people who would love pink diamonds but could never have the means to afford natural pinks."
Copyright (c) Associated Newspapers Ltd 2003, All Rights Reserved.